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McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

Woman with hearing loss holding her hand to her ear

Hearing loss is strictly a problem for older people, right?

Not quite. While it’s true that your odds of acquiring hearing loss increase with age, you can, in truth, develop hearing loss at any age.

As indicated by the NIDCD, 26 million Americans age 20 to 69 have high-frequency hearing loss from direct exposure to loud noise at work and during leisure activities. And that includes 1 in 14 generation Xers, age 29-40, who already have hearing loss.

Considering that hearing loss can hit at any age, it’s vital to understand the indicators as they’re generally subtle and tough to perceive.

Below are 8 silent signs of hearing loss that should prompt you to arrange a hearing test.

1. Ringing or buzzing in the ears

Have you ever come home from a very loud live show and noticed a ringing or buzzing in your ears?

If yes, that indicates you’ve damaged the nerve cells of hearing in your inner ear. If it’s only transpired a couple of times, the damage is most likely transient and trivial. But continual exposure or one-time direct exposure to very loud sounds could create irreparable damage and hearing loss.

If the ringing in your ears persists, you should arrange a hearing test as this is one of the initial signs of hearing damage. And if bypassing upcoming concerts is not a viable alternative for you, your hearing consultant can help you prevent further injury with tailor-made earplugs.

2. Balance problems

Your hearing and balance are intricately connected. In fact, a major element of your ability to remain balanced is a consequence of elaborate structures within the inner ear.

If you notice that you’ve been more clumsy lately, the issue may actually be with your ears. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University revealed that individuals with hearing loss were three times more likely to have a history of falling.

3. Memory impairment

Your short-term or working memory is very limited, able to process only a few items for a short period of time. That indicates you don’t have time to catch up on missed words during fast moving discussions.

With hearing loss, speech comprehension is compromised as you can completely miss or misconstrue the speaker’s words or statement. This manifests later when you can’t recollect important information.

4. Painful sounds

With hearing loss, you may become exceedingly sensitive to select sounds, to the point where they become painful.

The scientific term for this is hyperacusis, and you’ll want to talk with a hearing professional if the problem persists or becomes intolerable.

5. Listening fatigue

Think of spending the day attempting to figure out meaning from half-heard words and sentences and replying to questions you didn’t entirely hear. That degree of attention can wear you out quickly.

If you observe that you’re far too fatigued at the end of the day, hearing loss may be to blame.

6. Difficulty hearing in groups

Early stage hearing loss normally doesn’t present itself during person-to-person discussions or in quiet settings. Most often, hearing loss only becomes a problem in the presence of background noise or in group settings.

7. Not hearing alarms or calls

Hearing loss is generally difficult to notice or identify as it grows incrementally every year. In many cases, friends and family members will take note of the hearing loss before the person suffering from it does.

However, there are some subtle warning signs you can keep an eye out for, including the inability to hear alarms or calls, the doorbell, or the television at normal volume.

8. Difficulty hearing movie dialogue

With hearing loss, you may have particular trouble hearing the conversations in shows and movies. That’s because most cases of hearing loss affect high-frequency sounds to the largest degree, and speech is a high-frequency sound.


It’s never too early to care for your hearing health. If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your local hearing professional.